Wednesday, November 22, 2017

1977-78 Blues' Topps-Thanksgiving Special

This really has nothing to do with the beginning of a 4 day weekend-called Thanksgiving. I wish everyone a safe and relaxing holiday weekend.

The 1977-78 Topps/OPC Hockey set ranks up there in favorite designs for me with the 1977 Topps/OPC Baseball set.
I recently picked up various Blues Topps team sets from the 70s among the sets was a complete set of 1977-78.  The Ed Staniowski (#54) is off-center so I will look to upgrade. Also, not included was a League Leader for Penalty Minutes Dave Williams / Dennis Polonich / Bob Gassoff LL card, which I have always been amused by, a sport that acknowledges and celebrates the importance of doing something bad enough to get in trouble. This is even a category in Fantasy Hockey.
Who were the 1977-78 St. Louis Blues? Prior the their 11th season in the NHL the ownership of the team sold them to the Ralston Purina Co. and the Arena became the Checkerdome-ah, the Checkerdome. So many memories. Unfortunately, the Checkerdome would be razed in 1999.
To say the team stunk would be an understatement. This season would be only the second in 11 they would not make the play offs with a record of 20 wins, 47 losses and 13 ties for a total of 53 points.
Some of the Blues players on the roster included  lead scorer Center Gary Unger who played in all 80 games, rookie Center Bernie Federko who scored 17 goals in 72 games, veteran and legendary Center Red Berenson who played in all 80 games and scored 13 goals and had 25 assists.  Leading goalie for the Blues was Phil Myre who played 2620 in 44 games and had an 11 and 25 record with a 3.64 GAA.
Red was originally traded in 1970 to the Redwings for Gary Unger. Now Red would play his final season with the Blue Note. Eddie Johnson veteran goalie who started in pro hockey back in 1953-54 would start his final season with the Blues but end it with the Hawks. Blues’ legend Bob Plager would end his career after the season but did play in 18 games.

Making way for new blood such as Bernie Federko who would be with the team for a full year after a partial one the year before, this was also true for Brian Sutter.

Chuck Lefley would leave the Blues before the season and play in Finland.

As with other OPC/Topps Hockey sets there were differences in players depicted with OPC having far more players than tops.

These players only had OPC cards

Bill Fairbairn
Bob Hess
Bob Plager
Bruce Affleck
Chuck Lefley
Dick Redmond
Doug Grant
Doug Palazzari RC
Ed Johnston
Floyd Thomson
Inge Hammarstrom
Len Frig
Rick Bourbonnais RC, UER
Yves Belanger

These players had both Topps and OPC

Bob MacMillan
Claude Larose
Dave Williams / Dennis Polonich / Bob Gassoff LL
Ed Staniowski
Garry Unger
Jim Roberts
Larry Patey
Red Berenson
Rod Seiling
Poor Rick Bourbonnais’ only NHL card was the 1977-78 OPC card. However, he isn’t actually featured on the card. Blues’ fans will recognize the player as Bernie Federko. Technically Bernie’s rookie card will be issued the following year.
Sadly, both OPC and Topps would include the last card a league leader of Defenseman Bob Gassoff who was killed May of 1977 as a result of a motorcycle accident on the property of his good friend and teammate Gary Unger. As I remember my dad coming in to my room to tell me Thurman Munson passed away I remember when he told me of Bob’s passing.

Regarding the cards- they are clean to say the least. The team logo and name, player name and position along the bottom with a player action shot framed in white. Nice, nice design.
The reverse echoes other Topps and OCP cards. Topps utilizes the darker paper and again reminds me of their football issues. The reverse has a hockey stick as part of the border, with Topps going with a blue and brown ink combo. Career stats are included and the usual bio information along with a cartoon regarding the player along the bottom. A real clean reverse, I think sometime Topps was burdened by the need to remain traditional in their baseball card designs.
For the OPC set, same set up except bilingual French-English and a light cardboard stock.

Topps 8 of 9-only missing the League Leader with Gassoff and OPC 17 of 25.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Whose your Daddy? Better than a Blaster Edition

Growing up in the STL-there are some foods/dishes etc. that are St. Louis-Toasted Ravioli (oddly a place in downtown San Jose next to one of my offices has this-but I don't have it in me to try), Gooey Butter Cake, Thin Crust Pizza with Provel, and Dad's Original Scotch Oatmeal Cookies-yes there are others. How does this relate to cardboard?
When the St. Louis Blues were still babes in the woods, Dad's Cookies for the 1970-71 season came out with a set of NHL cards that resemble book marks. The set consisted of 144 cards from all NHL teams. The cards are 1 7/8 inches wide by 5 3/8 inches tall. The cards have player portraits with them wearing a generic NHL Jersey-the bilingual front of the cards have player's name and team above their position and statistic from the previous season and career totals.  The reverse is bilingual with instructions on how to redeem wrappers for a NHL decal. The cards were in packages of Dad's Cookies and "Hat-Trick" candy bars.
Bobby Clarke and Gilbert Perreault have rookie cards in the 1970-71 OPC issue-the Blue Notes have 10 players in the set-Bob Wall, Brit Selby, Gary Sabourian, Jim Roberts, Barclay Plager, Noel Picard, Frank St. Marseille, Ab McDonald, Tim Ecclestone, and Red Berenson. Images from the Bay lot.
Some sources indicated these were from Dad's Cookies of STL. But alas they are from a Canadian baker and confectioner. They also make a Scotch Oatmeal Cookies-found this image on the Net-but alas no Hat-Trick Candy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Everyone's Favorites

It has been several months since I last post updates to our Topps Fan Favorites Auto pick ups-I added one Redbird-2003 Vince Coleman.
When I saw that Wally Moon was included on this year's checklist I knew I would pick up one but would need to wait out the initial rush of listings-after a few months of waiting I grabbed for a few bucks.
Mr. Fuji posted this card some time ago and I decided I "needed" this too. 2017 Billy Bean-several years back Billy came out as gay when that wasn't easy-unfortunately he had to wait UNTIL after his career-there are things I know of which is there are more gay men in baseball now, in the past, and in the future who haven't been able to come out. Hopefully some day it will be much easier for them to do so. Plus he is a Padres! on this card.
I remember him as a Redbird and I remember him being very popular-the grinder type of player that Redbird fans love. 2017 Joe Mac
Lastly, I grabbed this 2017 Mark Mulder-yes a man crush.

I look forward seeing the checklist for next year-Redbirds I would like to see? Lonnie Smith, Pags, Ted Simmons, Eli Marrero, Lance Berkman, So Taguchi, Rex Hudler,  Gary Gaetti, Todd Stottlemyre, Matt Morris, Andy and Alan Benis, and Pedro Guerrero. There are Bruce Sutter, Tim McCarver, Kieth Hernandez, and Willie McGee ones out there that pop up once in a while.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Shout out to Panini

Back in late spring of this year I bought an inexpensive box of 2014 Donruss which yielded a redemption for a rookie auto-of course this redemption ended two years ago but the chatter on the web indicated one should try to get it redeemed as Panini is very generous-so I said "what the heck" why not. Fast forward 3-4 weeks ago and this bad boy shows up in my mail.
I appreciate that Panini redeemed this and as a result of this, and other reasons Panini will hold a special place in my cardboard heart.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Post with no Name

As I sat watching the World Series I remembered I picked up a card a few months ago that I meant to post about, but didn’t. It is an All-Star Fan Fest Card-I will keep you in suspense for the time being.
I wondered when were the first All-Star Fan Fest Cards issued. A search of The Trading Card Database gives 1991 as the first. The 1991 Mid-Summer Classic was held at the Sky Dome in Toronto and for which Petro Canada issued 26 cards-sans photos for each of the players. As the photos indicate, they were very simple. So there you have it-the First Fan Fest Cards. **Correction-Reader Angus pointed out the Petro cards DO have photos inside. Actually they are really nice and well done-will find a few of these. Thank you Angus!
Upper Deck for the 1992 game in San Diego issued 54 cards to mark the event-and even had a gold parallel version of each.
After skipping 1993 and 1994, 1995 saw Pinnacle issue a 30-card set and because it was held in Arlington, TX a special Nolan Ryan set. Pinnacle issued a 30-card set for the game in Philly in 1996.  As with the previous year another set was issued for volunteers-players and non-players, and another set dedicated to Steve Carlton.
For the 1997 game, again Pinnacle issued a Fan Fest set (No Redbirds); the set also included non-player insert cards. Pinnacle also issued a set of 7 promo cards.
The 1998 game was played in Coors Field and the cards issued for that event consisted of 5 cards; one each from Topps, Fleer, Upper Deck, Pinnacle, and Donruss-and I am not sure why, because frankly I don’t remember why-but the set commemorates Cardinal Lou Brock. Nice looking set of cards. We have the Upper Deck one but I haven't picked up the others yet.
For the next year’s game Pacific would issue a set of 21 cards. No cards issued in 2000, and for 2001 affair a MLB Showdown Promo set of 6 were issued.  In 2001, the game was held in Milwaukee and one of the most attractive All-Star Fan Fest Card sets were issued. I mean these really pop.  There was also a wrapper redemption set of 4.
Playoff Prestige, one of my favorite card lines, issued a 144 set of Playoff Portraits FanFest Green cards-another attractive set from Playoff.
After skipping 2004, 2005 would see two Fan Fest card sets issued for the Classic in Detroit. One contained 9 cards from various producers-Topps, Upper Deck, and Donruss. The two cards of Tigers in this set-Ivan Rodriguez and Dmitri Young were jersey cards. Topps would also issue a 5-card set specifically of Tigers.

Not until 2010 would we see another Fan Fast edition. Now I don’t know if the 5 cards with manu relics were issued at the Fan Fest. Then not again until 2012 would we see another set-this one 6 cards plus anther 4 Fan Fest patch cards-again not sure if there were for the actual Fan Fest or not.

In 2014 there would be 7 cards issued by Topps for the game in KC. Again another issue of patch cards.  Because Kris Bryant went to University of San Diego-one card was issued for the game at Petco Park in San Diego-a pretty cool one.
OK, OK so what is the card led me on this long Fan Fest Card sets? A 1996 Phillies All-Star Game Fan Fest Steve Carlton Rookie Reprint. The only card of the 5 cards that have Steve as a Redbird. The reverse is weird since it has him as a Philly. I posted this without a title at first-hence A Post with no Name.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Serramonte Show Finale

I decided against showing every card picked up at the show-frankly there weren't all that many. Perhaps if I had a scanner I would do so. But alas, I don't. So I will show off some of my favorite cards. You have all seen them at card shows-the guys who bust a ton of product for the hits-much like the Buffalo hunters on the plains when they would only take the tongues and leave the rest to rot-well it is like that. As a result, there were several mega boxes of 2016/2017 product sans hits-unfortunately, a young guy next to me was grabbing any Luke Weavers he came across so I missed out on several-but it was a good way for me to fill in the blanks for recent products.
2017 Topps Chrome 1987 Topps Stephen Piscotty
2017 Topps Chrome Bowman Then & Now Matt Carpenter

2017 Topps Finest Breakthroughs Aledmys Diaz
2017 Topps Chrome Freshman Flash Luke Weaver
2017 Topps Chrome Freshman Flash Alex Reyes
2016 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects 2016 Draft dividends Dakota Hudson Regular & Refractor #ed 50 of 50

1994 Spx holoview FX Blue Ozzie Smith
2017 Donruss Optics Allstar Aledmys Diaz

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Better than a Blaster 1974/75 Topps Hockey Edition

Back when I was just a few months old the Blue Note AKA St. Louis Blues participated in its first Stanley Cup Finals 1967/68. The Blues were one of 6 expansion teams in 1967-MN North Stars, LA Kings, Philly Flyers, Penguins, and the California Seals.  According to Wiki, St. Louis was chosen over Baltimore for the 6th city. The owner of the Blackhawks owned the St. Louis Arena and he wanted a team in the Arena.

Well the Blues did make the Stanley Cup finals the first three years of their existence, 1967/68, 1968/69, and 1969/70. Hold your amazement for a few minutes. The Stanley Cup Finals were REQUIRED to have one of the 6 expansion teams. Yep, what nonsense-as a result and to no ones great shock the Blues were swept by the Canadians in the first two, and the Bruins in the last one. This was the last time the Blue Note even sniffed the finals, well almost the last time-they choke and choke often, which is really the reason I don’t get too excited when they make the playoffs because I have zero expectations.
Up until I was about the age of 11-roughly 1978-my dad was a construction foreman that had a very generous boss who gave us tickets to games through out the season. So I have some memories of those early teams. I was an avid fan until the late 90s when I moved to Michigan.  While in Michigan I watched a lot of Don Cherry and Hockey Night in Canada as well as minor league games on CBC. After the move I lost track of the Blues. Now living in the Bay area I hear a lot of Sharks talk (IMO no snow, no hockey). But I wasn’t interested much in hockey. I would keep my eyes on the end of year standings to see how well the Blues did-then would watch them get knocked out of the play offs. Lo and behold last year we discovered we have NHL TV, which I love!
Couple this with a passion for cardboard, graphic design, and pop culture and bam! You have a potent combination, which has resulted in adding the Blues to my team collection. However, there is a limit to this-only cards until 1987-88. I am not interested in picking up every Blues card ever (my wife has a sigh of relief). In my youth

I remember watching Gar Unger, and the Plager boys play.
Recently for a decent price-I picked up the 1974/75 Topps team set-cards were in great condition with the exception of one very miss-cut card.

Who were the 1974/75 Blues?

They had a record of 35-31-14 for a total of 84 points which landed them in 2nd place in the NHL's Smythe Division. But as is the pattern of the Blue Note in the playoffs they were knocked out in the first round by the Penguins in a sweep.

1 Garry Unger C (Both T/OPC)
2 Pierre Plante RW (T, OPC)
3 Wayne Merrick C (T, OPC)
6 Ace Bailey LW (OPC)
8 Bill Collins RW (OPC)
9 Floyd Thomson LW (OPC)
12 Barclay Plager D (T, OPC)
16 Bob Plager D (T, OPC)
21 Don Awrey D (T, OPC)
22 Rick Wilson D (OPC)
27 John Davidson G (T, OPC)
28 Dave Gardner C (T, OPC)
29 Phil Roberto RW (T, OPC)
34 Eddie Johnston G (OPC)

Greg Polis not on roster-but has Topps and OPC card
Wayne Stephenson not on roster-but has Topps and OPC card

As a flip on the Topps/OPC baseball set size, the Topps Hockey sets (264) are much smaller than the OPC (396) version. Topps are not bilingual English-French and were generally printed in a better quality-OPC is very well known for being mis-cut, having print flaws, rough cuts, and off for being off-centered. Otherwise the only difference as with the baseball sets is the color and type of paper used. Because of the large check list-OPC of course included many more players than Topps. As the list above illustrates-I noted which players had both a Topps and an OPC card, and those that just had an OPC card.
The fronts of the 74/75 Topps featured a partial hockey stick border with a team specific box at the bottom-in this case the Blues are blue.  The players are either featured as a portrait or in posed action shot.
The reverse reminds me of the Topps football cards of the same period-grey stock with boxes in a nice reddish color with blue print and borders. Of course there is a cartoon and player bio and stats. You can see the difference between the OPC and Topps cards here. I am not sure if there are different shots of the players in the Topps and OPC sets. I thought may be I would try to do the season by season series like I did with football-but in case anyone noticed-I fizzled on that desired. So instead when I complete a team set I post about it then.
Topps 1974/75 team set 13 of 13, OPC 3 of 19